The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 103.



An authority on ancient magic has used the term Angriffszauber, which in the approximate English equivalent, “aggressive magic,” will serve as an inclusive heading for this chapter.1 The common characteristic which justifies the grouping of several kinds of charms under this title is this, that all of them a person who is supposed to say a charm or in some way set a magical process in motion, directs that process against another person whose attitude to the operator, whether friendly or unfriendly, is virtually ignored. The operator aims to control the will and the acts of this other person; the control may be exercised in a harmful way, but it is not necessarily “black magic.” It is, however, of an entirely different kind from the protective magic which is the essential characteristic of the amulets hitherto discussed.

The mildest type of amulet which could be classified here was known to writers on magic as a χαριτήσιον, something which gives χάρις, “favor,” almost “success.”2 The ordinary amulets of this class besought a god, a demon, or some vague power to grant favor to the wearer of the amulet, who might add his name to the petition. Only rarely does the prayer seek favor in the sight of a particular person. The νικητικόν or νικητήριον might seem to be a more aggressive charm; but such phrases as δός μοι χάριν νίκην indicate little more than δὸς χάριν alone; the writer or speaker wishes to “prevail” in his requests. The case different, of course, when we have to do with charms and amulets used by athletes,3 who naturally aimed at outdoing or overcoming their competitors.


The type of charm known as a “restrainer of anger” (θυμοκάτοχον) would seem to be comparatively harmless. Among an oppressed people there would be nothing strange in a slave seeking magical aid against the outbursts of a master's anger, or a petty malefactor trying to assuage the stern temper of a judge, not to mention domestic storms that might be quieted with the help of demonic powers. But our magical papyri, which contain several formulas for such charms, usually broaden their scope. There is one in the Oslo magical book which not only restrains anger but gives favor and victory as well,4 and a spell in a London papyrus claims the power to silence, subject, and en-

1 Th. Hopfner, Archiv Orientalni, 10 (1938), 135.

2 For one example of many cf. P. Mich. III, 154, 1.

3 Schol. Juv. 3, 68.

4 PGM XXXVI, 35 ff.

Last modified: 2012-10-01 10:57:35